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The Latest American Outrages

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
July 7, 2011
Daily Beast


Will Rogers liked to say, "It's easy to be a humorist, you have the whole government working for you." Government officials still do, joined by politicians, business leaders, cable news anchors, and foreign officials who take Americans for saps. I wish I could still laugh at their antics. But with upwards of 14 million jobless Americans, I just want to scream. Your call—laugh or scream at these:

1) The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives sold guns with tracers to low-level Mexican gangsters in order to catch gangster bigwigs, then lost track of the guns, and found only one or two that were used to kill a Border Patrol agent.

Needless to say the acting head of the ATF is in trouble over this. Even if they fire him, he's shown he's qualified for higher office.

The best moment in this fiasco was captured on The Daily Show when Jon Stewart played back an ATF official's answer to the question, "Did the Mexican government cooperate in this sting operation?" The ATF agent responded: "They were cooperating partly because they didn't know about it." This man has the potential to be a famous diplomat.

2) After the U.S. paid dearly in lives and treasure for Iraqi freedom and even as Washington continues to spend billions for Iraq's future security, the Baghdad government awarded contracts worth billions ... to China.

You say this couldn't have happened? Well, on June 21 the Chinese opened the first major new oil field in Iraq in 20 years. One might have hoped that some high U.S. government official would have told the Iraqi prime minister that if he awarded that contract to anyone but a U.S. oil company, he could forget about future American aid. Mind you, this is just the latest of several oil deals made between Iraq and China.

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